British Columbia is home to some of the best salmon fishing in the world. There are 5 native species; Chinook or King salmon, Coho salmon, Sockeye salmon, Chum salmon and Pink
salmon. These powerful and exciting sport fish range in size from 3 to 90+ pounds.
King salmon is also called Chinook Salmon, Tyee or Spring Salmon. This is the largest species of salmon Choose from fly-fishing, walk and wade, backtrolling, spoon fishing, bar fishing, cast and retrieve, float, bait, bottom or drift fishing. The Chinook is blue-green,red or purple on the back and top of the head with silvery sides and white ventral surfaces. It has black spots on its tail and the upper half of its body. Its mouth is often dark purple. Adult fish range in size from 33 to 36 in (840 to 910 mm) but may be up to 58 inches (1,500 mm) in length; they average 10 to 50 pounds (4.5 to 23 kg), but may reach 130 pounds (59 kg).
Sockeye salmon is popular for its deep red meat and is also known as ‘red salmon’ or ‘blueback salmon’. Although among the smaller of the seven pacific salmon species, this is a fighting fish known for its acrobatic jumps. They range in size from 24 to 33 inches (60-84 centimetres) and weigh between 5 and 15 pounds (2.3 to 7 kg). Sockeye grow to trophy size in some BC rivers. Their succulent flesh is highly prized. While in the ocean, sockeyes have silver flanks with black speckles and a bluish top giving them their blueback name. When they return to freshwater river systems and their spawning grounds their bodies turn bright red and their heads take on a greenish colour. Choose between fly-fishing, cast and retrieve and float fishing.
Coho are also known as ‘silvers’. During their ocean phase, Coho have silver sides and dark blue backs. During their spawning phase, the jaws and teeth of the coho become hooked. After
entering fresh water they develop bright red sides, bluish green heads and backs, dark bellies and dark spots on their backs. Sexually maturing coho develop a light pink or rose shading along the belly and the males may show a slight arching of the back. Mature adults have a pronounced red skin color with darker backs and average 28 inches (71 cm) and 7 to 11 pounds (3.2 to 5.0 kg), occasionally reaching up to 36 pounds (16 kg). Mature females may be darker than males, with both showing a pronounced hook on the nose. Coho can be caught on the fly, spinning gear, with bait, spoons, spinners, float- and drift fishing.
Chum salmon have an ocean coloration of silvery blue green. When adults are near spawning, they have purple blotchy streaks near the caudal fin. Spawning males typically grow an elongated snout and have enlarged teeth Chum salmon are brutal in their fights. Chum can be hooked on the fly or with spinning gear, drifting, on the float, bait, spoon or spinner and they will take it. Heavy fly-fishing gear or spey rods are recommended.
Pink salmon or ‘humpies’ have the shortest life span of any pacific salmon and spawn in two-year cycles. These are the smallest salmon and while the maximum weight for these fish is
estimated at 12 pounds (5.4 kgs.), they average three to five pounds when fully mature. They are nicknamed “humpies” because of the characteristic humped back the males develop during the spawn. Identification of these fish is quite easy. They are small in size and have large, oblong, “blotchy” spots on their tails rather than the small round spots found on coho and Chinook. They also lack the characteristic black mouths of the Chinook or the black-edged gums of the coho. One of the favourite methods of angling for pinks is to wade from shore.